Trained by four-time winner Bob Baffert, the undefeated three-year-old son of Scat Daddy drew the No. 7 post for Saturday’s 144th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Six horses have won the first leg of the Triple Crown from this post, most recently Street Sense in 2007.
Justify, who was pegged as the favorite at +350, is one of two horses in the 1 1/4-mile race who didn’t race at age two (odds provided by Bovada). The other is the fourth choice Magnum Moon (+750). No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Derby after not racing as a two-year-old.
2018 Kentucky Derby Odds
Justify is 3-0 in his brief career, destroying the competition by a combined 20 lengths. Magnum Moon is 4-0, winning the Arkansas Derby and Rebel Stakes in his last two starts.
“It’s one of the toughest Derbies I’ve ever seen,” Baffert said at the post position draw earlier this week. “All the important horses got good draws.”
The other “important horses” include Mendelssohn (+400), Audible (+650), two-year-old champion Good Magic (+800) and Bolt D’Oro (+850).
Post time for the Run for the Roses is 6:46 p.m. ET.
Three Reasons Why Favorite Could Win
Claiming that the 2018 group is the best ever might be a bit of hype, but it’s undeniable that this crop of three-year-olds is spectacular. And it all starts with Justify.
His raw talent will take your breath away. Many are already comparing his running style and abilities to Baffert’s Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
He can win on the lead or just off the pace. Justify closed from off the pace in his first two lifetime starts before easily winning the Santa Anita Derby on the lead over Bolt D’Oro.
He has arguably the best trainer in the business in Bob Baffert, who has won four Kentucky Derbys, six Preaknesses, two Belmonts and one Triple Crown. His jockey, Mike Smith, is a hall of famer as well.
Three Contenders Who Could Win
Mendelssohn (+400): Even though no European-trained horse has ever won the Derby, no horse has come into the race after a dazzling 18 1/2-length victory in the UAE Derby. Ryan Moore will ride the son of Scat Daddy, who has won four of his five races with Moore in the saddle, including on his previous appearance in the States last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Audible (+650): Trained by 2017 Derby winner Todd Pletcher, Audible is the only New Yorker in the crowd. The son of Into Mischief has won his last four and is rapidly rising in this division, including a three-length win in the Florida Derby. His stalking style could make him very effective in this large field.
My Boy Jack (+1800): If you’re looking for a long shot, here’s your colt. He’s handled by the Desormeaux brothers — trainer Keith and jockey Kent. The son of Creative Cause has more races in his career than any other horse in the field. He has three wins in 10 starts, including two stakes victories. My Boy Jack will be charging for home late in the race.
Three Important Stats To Consider
Favorites on a roll: The public’s choice has won five straight Derbys, but the favorite has reached the winner’s circle 35.7 per cent (51 of 143) of the time in the history of the event.
No time to wait: Dead closers just don’t win this race — 52 of the last 55 winners have been first or second with a furlong (eighth of a mile) to go.
Need for speed: How a horse finishes in its final prep is important, especially over the last three-eighths of a mile. Each of the past six Kentucky Derby winners — and 16 of the last 20 — ran the last three-eighths of its final Derby prep race in less than 38 seconds. Good Magic, Noble Indy, Enticed, Flameaway, Bravazo, Promises Fulfilled, Free Drop Billy, Lone Sailor, Firenze Fire and Instilled Regard all fail this test.
OK, It’s Time To Bet The Race
The two most popular bets on the Kentucky Derby are win (horse must finish first) and the exacta (must pick the correct order of the first two finishers).
Other bets offered include lesser returns like place (horse must finish first or second) and show (horse must finish first, second or third). The bigger returns, sometimes in the thousands of dollars, include the trifecta (exact order of the first three finishers) and superfecta (exact order of the first four finishers).
Where can you make these bets? Well, if you’re one of the 100,000-plus visitors headed to Louisville, you can place your bet at Churchill Downs. If not, there are many online options that take just a few minutes to join — like Bovada, TopBet and Betonline.
VGB’s pick — Justify (3-1) Racing luck always matters, but it’s especially important in the Derby with a 20-horse field. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will keep his talented colt out of trouble and near the lead throughout the race.